The Red Forest


20th Feb, 2013

Red pepper drying in Hungary, 1968

A little info about Hungarian peppers from

A visit to the grocer in Budapest, Hungary, puts an American shopper in a vastly different world of peppers.

The typical Hungarian shopper could hardly pass a grocery store without stopping to pick up several of these white peppers to take home for dinner–and most certainly one would be eaten on the way home.

The production of the famous Hungarian paprika takes place south of Budapest near the towns of Kolocs and Szeged. The paprika peppers are known as spice peppers. They are easy and very interesting to grow. In the earlier stages, these peppers are a lustrous dark green, like a Mexican ancho. When ripe, they are an impressive red.

Selection for earliness is important in a pepper expected to dry on the vine, so paprika spice peppers can be grown even in short-season areas. This early variety will mature almost anywhere. Let them turn dark red and dry on the plant in long-season areas or pick them and thread them on a string. Then allow them to dry in a protected place, just as they do in Hungary. When the peppers are dry, remove the stem and seeds (this is what makes difference between the finest and common paprika). For a coarse paprika, grind the flesh in a food processor; for a fine paprika use a mortar and pestle. Store the spice in a sealed container.

The Hungarians also have their own version of salsa, which they call Lecso. To make it, chop two sweet or semi-hot stuffing peppers (stems and seeds removed) and one medium onion and cook on a hot, oiled frying pan. Add a diced medium tomato. Continue cooking until the peppers are tender. Add water if the mixture gets too dry and salt and pepper to taste. Hungarian Lecso is eaten with hot or cold cooked meats or as a side dish with good Hungarian bread. Sometimes a few eggs are added to the Lecso in the frying pan to make a quick meal.

Photo via the Cooking of Vienna’s Empire




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